Country star Toby Keith, aka the world's highest paid country musician, has shuttered multiple locations of his Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill restaurant concept, amidst local reports that the chain is struggling. In Houston, local news network KHOU reports the bar closed earlier this week after being "behind on rent"; as Eater Houston points out, some Houston-area contractors complained in September 2014 that they hadn't been paid nearly $150,000 in services.
A press release from the restaurant's parent company, the Phoenix-based Boomtown Entertainment, confirms it has shuttered its Houston, Folsom, California, and Newport News, Virginia locations in a tactical move meant to "evaluate and explore the marketplace for more strategic locations." Boomtown says it plans to open three restaurants — in Phoenix, College Station, Texas and Lansing, Mich. — in the first quarter of 2015, with plans brewing for additional restaurants in Cleveland and San Antonio.
The awkwardly named restaurant chain is used to being in the news: In late 2013, I Love This Bar & Grill drew internet outrage after a Virginia location banned guns inside the establishment. In mid-2014, a state tax warrant revealed a location in Syracuse, NY owed more then $250,000 in back taxes (that location remains open). But regulars at the recently-closed are disheartened. As one patron tells California news station KCRA: "Why are they closing? And did we ever do to Toby?"